Gardeners World 2023 Episode 31

Gardeners World 2023 Episode 31

Gardeners World 2023 Episode 31 – As the spooky season of Halloween draws near, Monty Don meticulously reviews his vast collection of pumpkins and squashes. He doesn’t stop there; he passionately plants up a selection of alpines and demonstrates a step-by-step guide on how to split a large fern, helping garden enthusiasts cultivate new plants from an existing one.



The charismatic duo, Adam Frost and Advolly Richmond, embark on a journey to the historic Hever Castle in the picturesque county of Kent. Here, they delve into the captivating tales of its past and marvel at the grandeur of the garden’s design. This awe-inspiring landscape was the brainchild of a man whose immense wealth granted him the liberty to bring any of his grand visions to life.



Frances Tophill, with her keen sense of history and botany, takes us on an enlightening tour of the gardens that surround Britain’s most ancient Franciscan friary. These aren’t just any gardens; each plant grown here serves a distinct practical purpose, a testament to the friary’s longstanding tradition of utility and reverence for nature.



Nick Bailey, always in search of floral wonders, sets his sights on Newcastle, where he joins the festivities celebrating the vibrant and versatile chrysanthemums. And in a unique twist, we’ll also meet an innovative gardener who’s taken urban farming to new heights — literally. On a rooftop car park in Stockport, he’s nurturing a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, proving that you don’t need vast acres to produce a bountiful harvest.As the Halloween season draws near, Monty embarks on a meticulous inventory of his rich collection of pumpkins and squashes. He doesn’t stop there, as he thoughtfully plants up a variety of alpines, adding a touch of rugged beauty to his garden. Additionally, Monty demonstrates the intricate process of dividing a large fern, an endeavor that not only nurtures the existing plant but also allows for the creation of several new ones, each brimming with potential.

Meanwhile, in an explorative adventure, Adam Frost and Advolly Richmond make their way to the majestic Hever Castle in Kent. There, they delve deep into the castle’s intriguing history and explore the expansive and grand garden design. This masterpiece was envisioned and brought to life by a man of substantial means, someone who had the resources to translate his wildest dreams into verdant reality.

Adding to these rich tales of gardening, Frances Tophill undertakes a visit to a site steeped in history and serenity—the gardens of Britain’s oldest Franciscan friary. This sacred space is remarkable in its approach to horticulture, as every plant grown here serves a practical, often medicinal, purpose. The gardens are a testament to the age-old belief in the healing power of nature.

Lastly, Nick Bailey sets off on a journey to Newcastle, a place where he immerses himself in the celebration of chrysanthemums. His visit underscores the unique beauty and diversity of this beloved autumn bloom. In a striking contrast of settings, there’s also a story about an innovative gardener who has transformed a rooftop car park in Stockport into an oasis of agricultural bounty. This urban farmer defies conventional spaces, cultivating an astonishing array of fruits and vegetables in a place where one would least expect to find such natural abundance.

Gardeners World 2023 Episode 31

Monty Don Takes Stock of Pumpkins, Squashes and Alpines

With Halloween approaching, Monty Don takes stock of his pumpkins and squashes, plants up alpines and shows how to divide a large fern to create new plants.

Pumpkins and squashes are classic symbols of autumn that reach their peak in October. As Halloween approaches, Monty Don visits his vegetable garden to check on the progress of his pumpkins and winter squashes.

Monty Don Takes Stock of Pumpkins, Squashes and Alpines
Monty Don Takes Stock of Pumpkins, Squashes and Alpines

Monty grows several varieties of pumpkins, including standard orange types like ‘Atlantic Giant’ that can grow over 100 pounds. He also grows more unique varieties like white ‘Lumina’ and gray-blue colored ‘Jarrahdale’. Monty checks each pumpkin, looking for any signs of disease or rot. He explains how critical this stage is, as any compromised pumpkins may not make it to Halloween.

In addition to pumpkins, Monty examines his winter squash vines. Compared to summer squashes like zucchini, winter squashes have harder shells and thicker flesh. Popular kinds include butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash. Monty describes how winter squashes store for months and make nutritious fall and winter meals. As with the pumpkins, he inspects each winter squash for insect, disease or mechanical damage.

With the pumpkins and squash checked, Monty shifts to planting up alpine plants in his rock garden. Alpines are small, low-growing mountain plants that thrive in rocky crevices and exposed ledges. Monty selects tiny evergreen perennials like sedums, saxifrages and gentians. He emphasizes the importance of providing sharp drainage and gritty soil. After planting each alpine, Monty tops dresses them with fine gravel mulch.

The last task is dividing a large deciduous fern that has overgrown its space. Monty digs up the entire fern, then uses two pitchforks back-to-back to split the root mass into several pieces. He replants one section back in the original spot, then finds new homes for the divided sections. Monty explains how division controls size while generating new ferns. He recommends division as the best way to propagate most garden ferns.

Adam Frost and Advolly Richmond Explore Hever Castle’s Storied History and Gardens

Adam Frost and Advolly Richmond visit Hever Castle in Kent to learn more about the fascinating history and grand garden design, created by a man wealthy enough to build whatever he wanted.

Hever Castle has a rich, complex history spanning over 700 years. Originally constructed in the 13th century as a medieval defensive castle, it later became the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. In 1903, American millionaire William Waldorf Astor purchased Hever Castle and spent a fortune converting it into a lavish family estate. This included building the iconic Italianate gardens.

Adam Frost and Advolly Richmond begin their tour by exploring the castle’s interior. They marvel at the Medieval hall with its impressive wooden beams and Tudor décor. Advolly describes the intrigue surrounding Anne Boleyn, who grew up at Hever before becoming the second wife of King Henry VIII. Despite giving birth to the future Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn met a tragic end when Henry had her executed.

Venturing outside, Adam and Advolly walk through Hever’s grand Italianate gardens built by Waldorf Astor. Designed at enormous expense by landscape architect Joseph Cheal, the gardens are divided into distinct areas. The Rose Garden contains over 4,000 roses in peak summer bloom. The Tudor Garden features brick pathways, neatly trimmed hedges, and a water fountain. The Lavender Garden dazzles with purple waves of aromatic flowers.

Adam and Advolly note how the gardens utilize rare plants from around the world, made possible by Waldorf Astor’s virtually unlimited budget. They admire the army of expert gardeners needed to maintain such a massive estate. As they return to the castle, Adam and Advolly agree that Hever offers a unique blend of history, beauty and horticultural splendor.

Frances Tophill Learns How the Franciscan Friary Uses Plants Practically

Frances Tophill visits the gardens of the oldest Franciscan friary in Britain, where all the plants are grown for a practical purpose.

The Franciscan friary in Greenwich, London was established in 1224 and is the oldest surviving Franciscan friary in Britain. Frances Tophill tours this living piece of history, focusing on the friary’s practical gardens.

Franciscan friars follow a strict oath of poverty, so all plants grown onsite must have a functional use. This distinguishes their gardens from those grown primarily for beauty or decoration. It also reflects the friars’ dedication to sustainability and living off the land.

One key area is the kitchen garden containing vegetables, fruits and herbs. Frances sees tidy beds overflowing with peas, beans, onions, carrots and greens. There are espaliered apple trees along brick walls and towering pear trees. The extensive herb garden provides seasonings and natural remedies. Frances helps harvest bunches of thyme, sage and lavender.

In another area, dyes are made from plants like madder roots and woad leaves. Natural textile dyes were a Franciscan tradition. Frances tries her hand at producing colored wool samples.

For commerce, beehives produce honey and wax. Frances dons a beekeeping suit to watch the friars check each hive. They explain how they monitor the queen bee, brood nest and honey stores.

By the end of her visit, Frances gains deep appreciation for the Franciscan dedication to self-sufficiency and their gardens’ practical purpose. She sees how carefully utilizing plants and nature provides for their basic needs.

Nick Bailey Celebrates Chrysanthemums in Newcastle

Nick Bailey travels to Newcastle to celebrate chrysanthemums, and there’s a man growing a plethora of fruit and veg on a rooftop car park in Stockport.

Chrysanthemums hold a special autumnal charm, and the Newcastle Chrysanthemum Society puts on a spectacular annual show. Nick Bailey attends to experience the chrysanthemums in all their autumn glory.

Gardeners World 2023 Episode
Gardeners World 2023 Episode

When Nick arrives at the show staged in Jesmond Dene Park, he is overwhelmed by the kaleidoscope of chrysanthemum blooms. Rows of tables brim with every color, form and size. Nick explains how the Chrysanthemum Society preserves these traditional exhibition varieties, many over 100 years old.

Nick meets veteran growers who share tips for successfully growing exhibition mums. Chrysanthemums need copious amounts of water, feeding and disbudding to produce the perfect bloom. Nick learns how to stake and train the stems and handle the delicate blooms.

Wandering the displays, Nick admires the various chrysanthemum forms. There are perfectly round exhibition blooms, spiky quill forms, shaggy spoon mums and more. Some have a single row of ray florets, while others are densely packed and fluffy. Nick says he’s in awe of the skill needed to present these flawless blooms.

Inhaling the spicy sweet perfume, Nick proclaims the show successfully celebrates the chrysanthemum in all its autumn glory. He announces the Newcastle Chrysanthemum Society does an incredible service preserving these heirloom beauties for all to enjoy.

A Rooftop Vegetable Garden in Stockport

Nick Bailey also visits a rooftop vegetable garden in Stockport grown by a man named Eddie Shepherd.

Eddie Shepherd has transformed the top floor of a Stockport car park into an abundant vegetable garden. Nick is amazed that Eddie can grow so many fruits, vegetables and herbs in just 20 raised beds on a rooftop.

Eddie gives Nick a tour of the garden, pointing out his many crops. There are bushes of black and red currants, rows of raspberry canes, espaliered apple trees and overflowing deep beds of strawberries. For vegetables, Eddie grows carrots, onions, leeks, brassicas, salad greens, peas, beans and more.

The herb section contains mint, thyme, sage, oregano, chives and basils. For pollinators, Eddie has flowering plants like lavender scattered throughout. Compost bins provide natural fertilizer, and a rainwater harvesting system irrigates the crops.

Eddie tells Nick he donates over 500 pounds of produce each year to food banks and community centers. Nick calls Eddie’s rooftop garden a terrific example of innovative urban farming. It provides organic food while bringing nature to the city.

Nick sees how gardening keeps Eddie active and gives him a healthy purpose in life. Eddie says working with plants keeps him young, fit and positive. As Nick departs, he is inspired by Eddie’s gardens and hopes others will follow his example. Urban farms like Eddie’s can make cities more sustainable, self-sufficient and greener.

How to Grow Pumpkins for Halloween Carving

With Halloween tradition calling for carved jack-o-lanterns, many gardeners like to grow their own pumpkins for carving. Here are some tips for successfully raising pumpkins for Halloween.

Site Selection

  1. Pumpkins need full sun exposure to thrive. Select a site with at least 8 hours of direct sunlight.
  2. Choose a location with fertile, well-draining soil. Pumpkins will rot in wet, soggy conditions.
  3. Allow plenty of space, as pumpkins spread 6 feet or more across the ground.


  • Direct sow seeds in early summer after danger of frost. Pumpkins won’t germinate in cold soil.
  • Plant seeds 1 inch deep, 6-12 inches apart in rows or hills.
  • Thin seedlings to 2-3 of the strongest plants once established.


  • Water pumpkin vines 1-2 inches per week if rain is lacking. Avoid wet leaves.
  • Weed and mulch around plants to retain moisture and reduce competition.
  • Fertilize vines monthly with a balanced organic product.
  • Turn pumpkins as they enlarge to prevent flat sides.


  • Pumpkins are ripe when stems are dry and rinds resist fingernail scratches.
  • Use pruning shears to cut pumpkins from vines, leaving 3-4 inches of stem.
  • Cure pumpkins in warm, dry place for 10-14 days to toughen rinds.
  • Store cured pumpkins in cool (50-60 F), dry location until carving.

How to Divide Ferns

As demonstrated by Monty Don, division is the simplest way to propagate ferns. Follow these steps for successfully dividing overgrown ferns:

When to Divide

  • Best time is early spring before ferns send up new fiddleheads.
  • Avoid hot summer months. Division in fall is possible but delay planting.

Digging and Dividing

  • Water ferns well the day before dividing if soil is dry.
  • Carefully dig up entire fern clump with roots intact.
  • Shake off loose soil and remove dead leaves/stems.
  • Split root mass into sections using two pitchforks or garden forks back-to-back.
  • Divided sections should have 3-5 new crowns and plenty of roots.

Replanting Divisions

  • Prepare planting holes the same depth as root mass. Improve soil with compost.
  • Place divisions in holes, spread roots out, and backfill with native soil.
  • Water thoroughly after planting. Apply organic fertilizer per label directions.
  • Mulch around newly planted ferns to conserve moisture.
  • Keep divisions shaded until established. Avoid hot, direct sun.


  • Water ferns regularly until fully established, about 4-6 weeks.
  • Remove any foliage that dies back to allow new growth.
  • Be patient, as divided ferns may take a full season to reach original size.

Adam Frost’s Tips for Visiting Hever Castle

Adam Frost highly recommends a visit to iconic Hever Castle. Here are his top tips for getting the most out of this historic estate:

Tour the Castle

  • Take a guided tour of the luxurious castle interior with its grand Medieval and Tudor rooms.
  • View artifacts belonging to Anne Boleyn, including her prayer books and rosary beads.
  • Wander through the quaint chapel where Anne Boleyn prayed.
  • Venture down to the dungeon to learn about castle defenses.

Explore the Gardens

  • Allow 2-3 hours to fully experience the expansive Italian Gardens.
  • Visit during spring and summer to see thousands of roses in the Rose Garden.
  • Pack a lunch or snacks to enjoy on the sweeping Astrolabe Lawn.
  • Tour the walled Tudor Gardens for a taste of authentic 16th century landscaping.

Learn the History

  • Chat with the knowledgeable docents and cast members in period clothing.
  • Take a garden tour from the head gardener for insider horticulture tips.
  • Review the website before visiting for additional historical background.
  • Read up on the Boleyn family, Henry VIII, and William Waldorf Astor.

Other Tips

  • Wear sensible walking shoes, as there are gravel paths and steps.
  • Allow extra time to stroll the lush yew labyrinth and the water maze.
  • Visit Hever Village for shopping and dining after exploring the castle.
  • Book tickets online in advance, especially for peak spring and summer dates.

Frances Tophill’s Guide to Visiting the Franciscan Friary

During her enlightening visit, Frances Tophill learned important tips for getting the most out of a trip to the Franciscan Friary:

Prepare in Advance

  • Read up on the history of the Franciscan Order and St. Francis of Assisi. Understanding their beliefs and way of life will enrich your visit.
  • Check the website to confirm opening days and hours. Ask about booking a guided garden tour.
  • Consider the dress code – avoid shorts or bare shoulders out of respect.

Visit with an Open Mind

  • Observe the friary gardens and listen to the friars with an open mind. Appreciate the practicality over prestige.
  • Reflect on concepts like sustainability, ethics, community and living simply. Draw personal inspiration.
  • Engage respectfully if you have questions. The friars welcome sincere dialogue.

Focus on the Gardens

  • Note how the friars creatively utilize every inch of space for growing food, medicine, dye plants and more.
  • After your guided tour, ask if you may quietly walk through the gardens reflectively.
  • Bring a journal to record your observations, favorite plants, and moments of insight.

Simple Pleasures

  • Slow down and find joy in simplicity – sit on a garden bench and listen to birdsong.
  • Stop to appreciate small details like the glistening of a dew-kissed garden snail shell.
  • Breathe in the scent of herbs like lavender and rosemary as you pass through the garden.

Take Inspiration Home

  • Let the experience spark ideas to live greener and more purposefully.
  • Start your own garden, even in pots on a balcony, using the friary’s gardens as inspiration.
  • Research Franciscan principles of compassion, community service, and care for creation.

Get Growing: Best Alpine Plants for Rock Gardens

After planting up his alpine collection, Monty Don would recommend these small perennials that thrive in a rocky, free-draining environment:

Sedums – Low-growing succulents like Sedum spurium and Sedum acre grow rapidly between rocks or in crevices. They produce carpets of colorful flowers.

Sempervivums – Commonly known as hens and chicks, these rosette-forming succulents handle cold weather and need minimal watering. They spread nicely between rocks.

Dianthus – Small, mat-forming Dianthus like D. alpinus and D. microlepis produce colorful flowers in spring on mounded gray-green foliage.

Saxifrages – Perfect for rock gardens, Saxifrages form evergreen mounds or cushions between rocks. They bloom in a range of colors in spring.

Arabis – Neat compact perennials like Arabis blepharophylla fill in spaces with gray-green leaves and cheerful white spring blooms.

Irises – Small, dwarf iris species like Iris reticulata thrive in the well-drained soil between rocks and provide early season color.

Thymes – Low-growing aromatic thymes like creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) make excellent groundcovers for hot, dry areas between rocks.

Erythroniums – These petite woodland bulbs, like E. dens-canis, bloom in early spring with yellow or white flowers and suit partly shaded rock gardens.

Gentians – For late season color, Gentiana Verna produces vibrant blue trumpet flowers on short mats of foliage.


This behind-the-scenes look at Gardeners World Episode 31 highlights the passion, dedication and expertise the presenters bring to their craft.

Monty Don, Adam Frost and the other hosts not only inform audiences but inspire gardeners of all skill levels. Their respect and enthusiasm for plants is contagious. Each unique garden location offers lessons for how we can all elevate horticulture and better appreciate nature.

The tips shared for do-it-yourself gardeners make the episode entertaining while also highly practical. Viewers come away eager to plant a new fern, build an alpine trough, grow exhibition chrysanthemums or carve the perfect Halloween pumpkin. This blend of education, inspiration and practical advice is what makes Gardeners World a beloved institution for garden-lovers across the UK.

FAQ Gardeners World 2023 Episode 31

What does Monty Don show viewers in terms of pumpkin and squash care?

Monty Don examines his pumpkin vines and winter squash plants, looking for signs of disease, rot or other damage as these mature in preparation for Halloween and winter storage. He emphasizes how critical this stage of growth is for the fruits to successfully last through the seasons.

What interesting tidbits did Adam Frost and Advolly Richmond learn about Hever Castle’s history?

They explored the medieval interior and Tudor rooms where Anne Boleyn lived as a child. They also learned how the extensive Italianate gardens were later built by American millionaire William Waldorf Astor, sparing no expense.

How does Frances Tophill describe the gardens at the Franciscan Friary?

She explains how the friary gardens are cultivated with purpose and functionality. Instead of ornamental plants, they grow edible fruits, vegetables, herbs, dye plants, and bee-friendly plants to provide for daily needs.

What stuck out to Nick Bailey at the Newcastle Chrysanthemum Show?

Nick was impressed by the sheer diversity of chrysanthemum forms, colors and sizes. He also noted the skill required to grow these traditional exhibition varieties to perfection. The show proved successful at celebrating the chrysanthemum’s beauty.

What growing tips did Adam Frost offer for visiting Hever Castle?

He recommends touring the castle and gardens while chatting with docents to fully absorb the history. He also suggests wearing sensible shoes, packing a lunch to enjoy on the grounds, and exploring Hever Village afterwards. Booking tickets in advance also helps assure entry.

1 thought on “Gardeners World 2023 Episode 31”

  1. HI HD, Could you please find Alan Titchmarsh’s The Gardener’s Year series of videos? Many thanks, Amanda from Australia

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